Sunday, March 30, 2008

Oh, the bond of brotherly, sisterly love...

There is really nothing more pure and endearing to a parent than watching your children grow up together and truly enjoy each other's company. Watching Coretta indulge Geno through her impersonations of her Mom and Dad to her traditional dancing, to her outright silliness, Geno is there to appreciate and take note. There is nothing like having a captive audience, and Geno fits the bill. Here is a photo of him flirting with his sister!

Giggling Geno

Geno's new thing is to scream at the top of his lungs and laugh every time Coretta or I try to read to him. Quite strange, but he things he is part of something big. What that is, no one really knows. This is a photo of him in one of his cousin Jack's old shirts. It reads "I enjoy ice cream, insightful cartoons, long walks in the park, and the playground. All of that is true give or take except for ice-cream. When we were at dar's the other day, Coretta and I tried to feed him ice-cream and Geno pushed it away. I believe it may be too cold!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring Break

Coretta has had the entire week off from school. I can tell that she is starting to miss school and her friends and her routine. She is definitely the type of child who likes to have a full schedule. She doesn't do too well with idle time. We have been busy going to the park, the library, playing outside and enjoying the nice weather. This weekend we are going to a family movie night with about seven families from Coretta's school and we are going to watch the movie Enchanted. Neither Coretta or I have seen it and I have heard that it is pretty good.

Geno has enjoyed spending time at the park. He really loves to swing. Every time I would push him up in the air he would giggle uncontrollably. Other then his meltdown at the coffee shop today, he has been a trooper. He even behaves well as we wait every week 30 minutes for Coretta's piano lesson. I have learned that as long as there is space to roam and books to read, he does very well.

Tomorrow we hope to be outside again so we hope that the weather will cooperate. I have heard that there is a possibility of snow this weekend. I am so ready for spring!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Coretta at church...

Coretta loves to go to church. She was particularly interested in the bell choir and the trumpets that played at the Mass. She also liked that each child was given a special Easter egg with a present in it after the Mass. She only has two more weeks until she can receive the body and blood of Christ. She is both excited and nervous for her special day. Here is a picture of her at church.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hard Days Night...

The first night that we stayed at the Holiday Inn, Geno would not sleep. He hates the port-a-crib and kept standing up screaming and yelling. Nothing seemed to work. Nick made a barricade of pillows so he couldn't see us, but he still wouldn't go to sleep. Nick finally had him sleep in bed with him. Needless to say, no one (including Nick and Geno) really had much sleep.

We knew that morning we needed to have a plan. Our plan was to run Geno ragged, take him swimming, and then give him a hot bath. Our theory was that he would be too tired to complain and go right to sleep. our prediction was right. As soon as I laid him down, he took his teddy bear blanket and without a peep or moving a muscle, went to sleep.

Grandma and Geno

When it comes to my mother, the one sure way to make her smile, is to hand her one of her grandchildren. Want her to smile even more, hand her one of her grand-babies. Since Geno is the "baby" of the bunch, he definitely is the apple of her eye.

Any time he would stand or babble she would get so excited. She loves to hug and kiss him. She even found a little chair that he could sit in and read his books. Here is a picture of Grandma Earnest with the baby of the family!!

Happy Easter!

My family and I went to Detroit Lakes this Easter to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa Earnest. We had a room at the Holiday Inn for two nights and Coretta, Emilia, Jack, and Geno had a great time swimming.

After church, Coretta ran into Grandma's house in search of her Easter basket knocking down anything in her path. When she found it she was very excited. She especially like the shirt, sunglasses, and candy.

The Easter egg hunt went well and all 32 eggs were found. The funniest thing was when Nick put one of the Easter eggs above the door, and when Coretta shut it, it fell on her head! We all had a great laugh!!

Geno spent time digging through his Easter basket and enjoyed pulling all of the things out. His latest thing is cause and effect and can spend hours dropping a ball and watching it fall. He also enjoys standing up and having everyone clap for him. He absolutely loves the spotlight.

As we were sitting in the living room, the doorbell rang, and sure enough, the Easter bunny left a couple gigantic eggs! We later found out they were goose eggs!! The kids loved cracking them and inspecting the hard boiled egg.

Coretta and her cousins spent quality time together playing tag, watching movies, and even had a sleepover at Auntie Bridge's house. Other than Emilia and Jack almost drowning a handful of times in the pool, the weekend was great! Coretta really deserves the title of on-duty lifeguard! They especially enjoyed using the water squirters that Grandma bought them and loved going in the hot tub.

Here are some pictures from the weekend!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

WCHA Final Five....

Tonight Nick and I are going to the WCHA Final Five hockey game at the Excel Energy Center. It should be a pretty great game to watch!! We actually have box seats. His company has box seats for almost every sporting event it seems! I have only watched the Twins in the box before, never hockey! Nothing like getting a chance to watch the Golden Gophers!! My dad is envious. He lives, breathes, and eats hockey. I told my Dad that he needs to come up for a game some time, but it is hard to get the small town boy to the big city. is a picture of the Golden Gophers against the badgers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Geno and Charlie

Geno and Charlie have become the best of friends ever since the day Geno came home from the hospital. I think that from that day on, Charlie realized that it was his job to make sure that Geno was protected and cared for. As their relationship grew, they have become inseparable. They play with the same toys and play catch with the squeaky toy, share their food, and give each other kisses.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Storytelling Night at Saint Thomas More

Tonight we had the privilege to attend Coretta's school for a wonderful night of storytelling by the students of second grade. Each student had to choose a book that they liked and memorize it paying close attention to rate, speed, tone, and pitch while incorporating gestures and of course, eye contact. The students have spent numerous hours practicing, rehearsing, and critiquing their peers. Coretta has also been asked by her teacher to read three paragraphs in front of all parents before the show begins. I must say it was quite impressive to see the talent and ability of this group of children.

Students also created story characters that were on display in the dining hall. Every group did a fantastic job. Afterwards we shared cookies and apple cider with the students and their parents. Here is a video of her storytelling debut!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Saint Joseph's School of Music

Coretta is finally enrolled in piano at Saint Joseph's School of Music. She really loves her new piano teacher and is learning a lot of great skills. In the video below, Coretta will describe her experience and end with a short performance.

Coloring Easter Eggs

Today was the day that Coretta and I decided to color Easter eggs. Coretta loves decorating and eating them!! She also can't wait to learn about the stations of the cross and as Coretta says, "When we can finally say Alleluia, Jesus is risen!" She doesn't mind the candy and the Easter bunny either! Here is a video of Coretta explaining how to decorate an Easter egg.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Art Adventures

This Thursday, I will be teaching Coretta's second grade class about art history. My lesson is centered around a painting from 1911 called Intrigue by James Ensor. At the beginning of the class, pass out a green star to only certain students and tell them to leave it on their desk until later.

Building Prior Knowledge:

Discussion Questions:
1) Do the people in this painting look real? Or do they represent types of people? Why do you think so? What types of people are they? Do you think Ensor likes them?

2) Have you ever wore a mask? Perhaps in play or on Halloween? Why did you wear it? How did you feel behind the mask?

3) What kinds of people might wear masks?

4) Sometimes we can make our own faces into masks. If you're sad, but don't want anyone to know, what kind of mask would you wear? If you are frightened, but want to seem brave, what kind of mask do you wear?

style seems to hover between dream and reality. Rather than depicting things as they would actually appear, Ensor creates a sense of fantasy and caricature by his use of exaggerated color, line, and form. Painting in oil, on canvas, he uses bright red, blues, and greens juxtaposed with whites, browns, and blacks. He also uses broken brush strokes which move in various directions.

Art History:

In this painting, Ensor depicts the harassment of his sister, Mariette, and her Chinese fiance. Mariette's romance with Tan Hee Tseu, an art dealer who lived in Berlin, caused a great scandal in the town. In Ensor's painting, Mariette and Tan, the masked man and woman in the center, are the main characters. She holds his arm protectively, while he seems to withdraw his expressionless mask down into the color of his coat. The two are surrounded by grotesque gossips, dressed in carnival masks, who appear to mock them.

These masks are really a symbol for how cruel we can be to others. Here the masks seem to resemble cruel people, as ugly on spirit as the masks they wear. There seems to be a two-fold function of the mask: it can give protection to the vulnerable and disguise the vicious or mean people.

1) Have you ever been laughed at or had your feelings hurt in school? Did you like the faces of those who were teasing you? How did they look to you? Did you let them know you were hurt, or did you try to "mask" your feelings?

Once the second graders have looked at the piece and made comments, we will then compare this painting to Dr. Seuss's book, The Sneetches. Below is a video of it:

Here is part 2:

First, have them define the terms discrimination and privilege. Have them create a list of school privileges that they have such as being first in the line, receiving homework passes, extra center time, etc. Explain that those who received the green stars will receive these privileges and those who did not won't. Have them share with the class how they felt about receiving or not receiving a star? We will then read Dr Seuss's book called The Sneetches. In the story, the sneetches are yellow bird-like creatures where some where green stars, and others do not. These stars become a sign or symbol of discrimination and privilege. Once they read this story, I will ask them how it would feel to be treated differently if you didn't have a green star? Do we sometimes do this with our relationships with others? How do you think the main character in the painting by Ensor felt when he was not being included? Have we ever not included someone at recess, at the lunch table? These are signs of discrimination as well. How can we work towards including all people here at Saint Thomas More?

Art Project:

They then will spend time creating a mask that can either be a portrayal of the vicious (mean people) or more protecting the vulnerable like in the case of Mariette and Tan. If time, they will share their creations with the class.

Saint Patrick's Day

In honor of Saint Patrick's Day Coretta was able to be out of uniform at school!! She was very excited about it. She decided to wear a green sun dress with a light green sweater. She looked very cute!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bad Habits Start Early...

The other day while Grandpa was babysitting Geno, he realized that Geno really liked pop. Not only did he like pop, but he also liked coffee. Now if any of us are sitting in the living room with a caffeinated beverage, Geno will come over to you and grunt, yell, and try to pull it out of your hands. Here is a photo of Geno taking a swig of Dad's coke.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Little pinchers

Geno has just mastered the art of pinching his mother, father, and sister. For some reason, when he sees skin, he needs to pinch it. It has become an obsession of his and he will NOT stand for the word No! I hope this is a short filled stage and we will move on to some other obsession.

He also is impatient when it comes to shopping. He is good until right as we get to the check-out. Then it seems that he feels it is his time to shine. Shining by throwing things out of the cart and trying to eat food such as bananas with the peeling on. Here are some recent photos. One was during nap time today. Don't let this angelic pose fool you!

Deep Thoughts by Coretta

The other day, Coretta was sitting in her chair writing one of her songs, when she stopped and asked her Dad, "Can I read my song to you?" which he replied, "Of course." Afterwards she asked, "Are any of these lyrics all rights reserved?" How cute is that!! Already worrying about copyright infringement!

Coretta and school...

Coretta received her report card yesterday and she did very well. She is strong in reading, writing, public speaking, music, spanish, science, religion and social studies and has improved considerably in Math. She has exceeded in the expectations for second grade in many areas. We are very proud of her.

In second grade this semester, they have been very busy. In social studies, they have been learning about immigration. They also spent time researching their own relatives to tell their story about coming to America. They have read a story called Coming to America by Betsy Maestro. They had to answer questions such as what would be the best/worst things about going to a new land. They also have spent time mapping continents, oceans, and rivers and spent time studying Sweden.

In Language Arts, they have been busy reading the Roxaboxen series by Alice McLerran, reading folktales, and writing their own tall tales. In addition to this, they had to choose a book that they were to memorize and will share with an audience next Wednesday at Storytelling Night. Coretta chose the book Today I Feel Silly. They have spent considerable time mapping out their story, practicing their lines, and paying attention to gestures. tone, pitch, rate, and eye contact. I can't wait to see the final presentation!

In math, they continue to have timed tests in subtraction and addition and are now working on division and multiplication. They have also been working on counting money and telling time.

In religion, they have been learning about reconciliation as well as the sacraments. More specifically holy communion which will take place in April.

In science, they have been continually studying their frogs and making observations. What a great experience to observe a frog from the tadpole stage on.

In art, they have what is called Art Adventures where volunteers come in to teach students about art using specific paintings from the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I have volunteered to teach this program in Coretta's class which is very exciting. The theme for this eight week exploration is friends, family, and foes. For every painting they study, they learn art history as well as create their own art project. So far, they have been able to create a sculpture, a painting of a garden using the impressionism brush strokes, and will create a mask next week.

Coretta started piano lessons yesterday at Saint Joseph's School of Music and is very happy to be back playing the piano. She is registering for track this spring and is looking forward to that as well.

She is also busy starting her band which they have named The Guitar Heroes. Coretta spends a considerable amount of time writing songs for the band as well. The picture above is of Coretta and her song book!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Live, Laugh, Love...

Coretta has been quite busy with school and birthday parties and sleep overs and figure skating and holy communion and piano lessons....I don't know about you, but I am tired! She has been wanting to highlight one of her most hidden talents: one being the art of meditation, and the other being her unique dance moves. Here is a video of her performance!

The Happy Clapper...

Geno was in the other room the other day reading to himself in his self-proclaimed dialect. He sure LOVES his board books. It was really cute! He also tried salmon for the first time and really liked it. He is still pulling himself to a stand and then clapping. I have to believe that the walking part is on its way! At the end of this month he will be 15 months old already! Here is a short video of Geno clapping.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Eucharist Banner

As part of Coretta's holy communion, she must make what they call a Eucharist Banner. This banner will be placed on her pew which will be reserved for her family and relatives. Since her favorite colors are pink and purple, I tried to incorporate them into the design. Here is a photo of it.

Video Game Mania

We finally decided to break down and buy the XBox 360 this weekend. Since then, Coretta and Nick have been battling it out playing Guitar Hero and Beautiful Katamuri. It seems that it truly brings out the kid in Nick. He also bought for himself Call of Duty where you go through military training and then enter the battlefield. I came home from holy communion classes to find him planted on the recliner playing video games. When asked how long he had been playing, he stated two hours! I think he will be the one who needs limits. Here are a couple shots of Coretta playing Guitar Hero.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Destination Imagination Tournament

Coretta and her team under the guidance of me as their team manager did very well at the competition held at Harding High School on Saturday March 1st. Even though they were not eligible to compete at the state level, they were still judged on their creativity, completion of the challenge/task, performance, and teamwork. The judge stated that their lyrics to their song and the play itself were exceptionally written. They also liked their creation of their background and the cloud design. Here is a video of their performance in their play Rosa Parks Goes Back in Time.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Molar Miracle

Coretta lost her big molar the other day at school. It was bleeding so badly that she had to go to the nurse. When I picked her up that day, she was smiling from ear to ear. When I asked her what was the matter, she said that she had lost her tooth. That night she wrote the tooth fairy a letter and put her tooth under her pillow. The next day, she received some horse tattoos and $10.00. I guess the molars are worth a lot of money.